Agenda and minutes

Surrey Corporate Parenting Board - Thursday, 21 October 2021 10.30 am

Venue: Teams

Items
No. Item

32.

WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS

    • Share this item

    Minutes:

    1.    The Chairman introduced the meeting and welcomed its participants. Members of the Board noted that the meeting had been extended by one hour to allow for sufficient time to discuss items on the agenda.

    2.    The Chairman informed the Board that there was good news to share. Members noted the following:

    a.    That twin sisters who were care-leavers had recently graduated university with first class honours and so were awarded a spa day through the Celebration Panel.

    b.    The Chairman had recently attended the Surrey Virtual School Conference. The Board noted that the conference was introduced by showing an animated film that had been created by twin brothers who were also care-leavers.

    c.     That a care-leaver, Kirsty Capes, had recently published her first novel. The Board noted that the novel had received very positive reviews.

    3.    The Chairman highlighted that a pre-meeting was held with young people in care to discuss the key topics of the meeting. The Chairman went on to remind elected Members of the importance of their attendance to the pre-meetings.

33.

VIEWS OF CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE ON PERMANENCE, SUFFICIENCY AND PLACEMENTS

    • Share this item

    Purpose of the report:

     

    ·         For information and awareness

    ·         For the Board to receive feedback from children in care and care leavers regarding their views and experiences on education, employment and training

    Minutes:

    Jo Lang, Head of Customer Engagement

    Rachael Wardell, Executive Director for Children, Families and Lifelong Learning

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.    The Head of Customer Engagement introduced the item and presented a slideshow to the Board. The slideshow included responses from young people on the following questions:

    a.    What does permanence mean to you?

    b.    What is working well with where you live?

    c.     What is not working well with where you live?

    d.    What advice would you give your younger self about where you live?

    The slideshow presented to the Board was included within the meeting’s agenda.

    2.    The Chairman noted that there was some very positive conversations during the pre-meeting with young people. With this, there was also points raised by a member of the Board regarding quotes from a young person which had caused concern as they stated that they were facing issues, such as issues with other young people, in care. The Chairman confirmed that the concerns had been raised with the appropriate officers. The Chairman also informed the Board that a discussion was held around the importance of the continuity of school and family networks when moving placements

    3.    A Board member asked whether a phone call service was available to young people in care to raise concerns and get advice on any issued they faced in care. The Executive Director for Children, Families and Lifelong Learning stated that there were a number of processes in place to allow young people in care to raise placement issues. This included speaking directly with social workers, speaking with the Independent Reviewing Officer and using independent advocacy arrangements. The officer went on to highlight that young people in care should be asked direct questions to find out their current situation and whether they were facing any issues.

    4.    The Executive Director for Children, Families and Lifelong further informed the Board of the discussion held at the pre-meeting with young people. This included:

    a.    Whether placements felt like home for young people in care.

    b.    Improvement challenges around better placement matching straight away and the reasons why a placement may not be a good match.

    c.     Maintaining existing connections when moving placements.

    d.    Placement issues when a young person is placed in care at short notice.

    5.    The Board discussed the early identification of young people at risk and whether there were concerns that identification was not as effective as it could be. The Executive Director for Children, Families and Lifelong explained that there were a number of routes for identification to take place and that it was not currently a concern however would continue to be kept under review.

     

     

     

34.

THRESHOLDS AND OUTCOMES FOR LOOKED AFTER CHILDREN

    • Share this item

    Purpose:

     

    ·         To address whether Surrey Children’s Services are bringing the right children into care at the right time (thresholds) in order to safeguard and meet their needs, alongside any implications and initiatives impacting on the numbers of looked after children, and reunification (outcomes).

    Minutes:

    Juliette Blake, Assistant Director

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.    The Assistant Director introduced the report and provided a brief summary. Members noted that a main theme for the report was around how the service managed and checked-in on Section 20 accommodated children. Members noted the following:

    a.    173 children had entered care though a Section 20. This meant to enter care through consent, usually from parents.

    b.    That the service was piloting a meeting called ‘Access to Resource Panel’ which would look at different areas such as preparation for a child entering care and whether there was a reunification likelihood.

    c.     The impact of COVID-19 during a crisis-point for a young person.

    2.    The Headteacher for the Surrey Virtual School stated that she felt the report was positive and asked for detail on the process for dealing with Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children. The Assistant Director explained that Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children were unaccompanied and therefore would become Looked After Children upon entering the country. The Board further noted that additional pressure had been placed on Children’s Services due to the increased number of children coming into the service.

    3.    A Member of the Board asked whether there was an update on how the service aimed to provide review and scrutiny within the process for Section 20 children. The Assistant Director explained that the pilot meeting, Access To Resource Panel, was in place to review cases which would allow for better forward planning and ‘checking’ going forward.

    4.    The Board asked whether there were any delays in family court procedures and the impact it had on the council’s service. Officers confirmed that the courts were experiencing a backlog and that work was ongoing to catch up however cases that previously lasted 26 weeks were now taking longer than 12 months. Following a request for more information, the Board agreed to circulate a briefing outlining the short and long term impact of the family court delays and any plans for mitigation.

    5.    Following a member request for more information, the Board agreed to circulated a briefing on the Access to Resourcing Panel. It was asked that the briefing include detail on the scale of the pilot, plans to become mainstream, frequency of meetings, scale of impact and detail on staffing and resourcing.

     

    Actions / Further information to be provided:

     

    The Board agreed to circulate a briefing outlining the short and long term impact of the family court delays and any plans for mitigation.

     

    The Board agreed to circulated a briefing on the Access to Resourcing Panel pilot. The briefing is to include detail on the scale of the pilot, plans to become mainstream, frequency of meetings, scale of impact and detail on staffing and resourcing.

35.

SUFFICIENCY REPORT

    • Share this item

    Purpose:

     

    ·         To provide the Corporate Parenting Board with an update on progress increasing the number and proportion of looked after children who are able to live and be supported in Surrey (“sufficiency”).

    Minutes:

    Joanne Rabbitte, Assistant Director, Resources

    Fiona Mackirdy, Project Manager

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.    The Assistant Director introduced the report and provided a brief summary. Members noted that the update was on the progress on increasing the proportion of looked after children who were placed within Surrey (or within 20 miles of the border). Members noted that positive progress had been made and that the vision was to enabling 80% of looked after children to remain in Surrey.

    2.    A Member of the Board ask for details on whether the 80% vision was a target with a corresponding timeline. Officers confirmed that 80% was a working hypothesis and there was a three to five year plan being worked to. The Board noted that there could also be a number of positive reasons for why a placement was placed out of county and that those reasons needed to be considered alongside the 80% vision. In regard to creating additional capacity, members further noted that work was being undertaken to both consider the internal placement offer to the service as well as to consider what the external market could offer.

    3.    The Chairman highlighted that there was a need to be sensitive to the impact that moving placements had on a young person’s life. 

    4.    A Member of the Board noted that 46% of looked after children were currently out of county and asked how the service intended to bring children back into the county to meet the 80% in-county vision. Officers explained that the service had so far been very successful in semi-independent provision and that further work was taking place to increase provision within the county. The capital strategy was also evolving and included a review of the existing estate to consider the right way to further expand. There was also a medium-term plan around the acquisition of more homes. Members went on to note that, in the following year, work would be underway to increase the foster home capacity for kinship placement and mainstream fostering. 

    5.    A Member of the Board requested a detailed breakdown of the children that were being placed out of county and the reasons why placement in county was not possible. The Chairman agreed to provide the detail outside the meeting.

    6.    A Member asked what tools were being used to track performance against the service’s vision of 80% of children remaining within the county. The Member further stated that she felt work needed to be done to align the capital strategy against the vision. The Assistant Director confirmed that the modelling work was being undertaken under the transformation workstream and agreed to circulate detail of the modelling outside the meeting. 

     

    Actions / Further information to be provided:

     

    The Chairman agreed to circulate a breakdown of the children that were being placed out of county, and the reasons why, to the Board.

     

    The Assistant Director agreed to circulate detail of the sufficiency modelling outside the meeting. 

36.

NO WRONG DOOR UPDATE

    • Share this item

    Purpose:

     

    ·         To appraise new Members of the Board about the No Wrong Door model

    ·         To provide an update to the Board on implementation of the model in Surrey

    Minutes:

    Fiona Mackirdy, Project Manager

     

    Key points raised in the discussion:

     

    1.    The Project Manager introduced the report and provided a brief summary. Members noted that the No Wrong Door model was a whole-system way of working but also as a specific service to support young people. There had been some positive progress with the No Wrong Door work however there were some significant delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Board noted that the No Wrong Door approach would address a number of issues already mentioned in the meeting including sufficiency work, crisis prevention and family and foster carer support.

    2.    The Chairman highlighted the work of the No Wrong Door Task Group and noted that there was elected Member involvement from the beginning.  

    3.    A Member of the Board asked whether officers were confident that the appropriate systems and processes were now in place to start the model. The Project Manager noted that there had been some issues with partner buy-in and governance however officers now felt they were back on track. Following further discussion, the officer noted that there was a national shortage of clinical psychologists and that work was ongoing to think creatively about how to ensure those necessary specialist roles were filled.

    4.    The Board noted that No Wrong Door would work with young people from ages 12 – 17 to prevent, or provide support, during a crisis. Members also noted that work was underway with the Surrey Virtual School to advance the No Wrong Door offer connected to people’s skills, talents and interests.

    5.    A Member of the Board asked whether there was any information on the opening of a second No Wrong Door hub and where in the county it would be located. Officers stated that the second hub was due to be positioned in Walton-Upon-Thames and that it was anticipated to be ready in Summer 2022.

     

37.

FOSTERING ANNUAL REPORT

    • Share this item

    Purpose:

     

    ·         To provide an overview of the work of Surrey County Council’s fostering service during 2020/21 and highlight the quality of practice, the output of the service and innovations planned to strengthen and enable the service to build on current achievements.

    Minutes:

    Carol Norrington Beard, Service Manager

    Clark Mcauley, Service Manager

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.    The Service Managers introduced the report and provided a brief summary. Members noted the following points:

    a.    That the previous year was the most successful for Surrey in recruiting foster carers.

    b.    That the last 12 months had been busy for connected-persons foster carers.

    c.     That many of the young people had chosen to remain under a ‘Staying Put’ arrangement with their former foster carers. This meant that carers were able to support them beyond the age of 18 and into adulthood.

    d.    That some carers had resigned and detail on this was outlined within the report.

    e.    That during 2021, a Retention Group consisting of foster carers, Supervising Social Workers and a Fostering Manager was initiated as a way to work together to share ideas about improving retention.

    f.      That Mockingbird hub carers continued to offer emergency care where necessary.

    g.    The service continued to work closely with the Fostering Association.

    h.    That work continued in order to develop the skills of foster carers to allow them to care for children with more difficult and complex behaviours, reducing reliance on external placements and improving outcomes for young people.

    2.    The Board discussed the use of social media to target potential foster carers. Officers explained that the service worked with an agency that analysed particular cohorts through social media to help targeting.

    3.    The Board noted the importance of recruitment of carers as current carers resigned.

    4.    The Board held a discussion on the complaints and compliments received over the previous year. The Service Managers explained that they had worked hard to engage and build relationships with foster carers and help them understand that it’s perfectly okay to submit a complain. Members further noted that a survey was conducted very recently to understand the current sentiment across the county’s foster carers and had received the most responses to date. 

38.

ADOPTION ANNUAL REPORT

    • Share this item

    Purpose:

     

    ·         To provide an update on the adoption service in Surrey and the South East region.

    Minutes:

    Joanne Rabbitte, Assistant Director, Resources

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.    The Assistant Director introduced the report and provided a brief summary. Members noted that the report was the first annual report for the regional adoption agency. The Officer pulled key highlights from the annual report which could be found from page 87 of the agenda. Furthermore, the Board noted that it was a requirement for the service to join a regional agency and that the partnership was working well. The Chairman highlighted that there had only been 26 adoption decisions noted in the report which was due to low adoption rates in Surrey and delays in the family courts. The Board held a discussion around the reasons why adoption rates could be low in the county which included the lack of understanding of the benefits to the child. 

     

39.

INDEPENDENT REVIEWING SERVICE ANNUAL REPORT

    • Share this item

    Purpose:

     

    ·         To provide an update on the independent reviewing service.

    Minutes:

    Senay Nidai, Service Manager

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.    The Service Manager introduced the report and provided a brief summary. Members noted some challenges that the service faced during the pandemic and how reviews were, for a time, conducted virtually to allow reviews to continue. The Board further noted that the service was focused on permanence, progress in how children participate with their conferences and ‘looked after’ reviews, and best practice with working with children with disabilities.

    2.    The Chairman informed the Board of some positive experiences she had when meeting Independent Reviewing Officers in the past. The Board further noted the Chairman’s comments that, although the number of alerts was concerning, it was a positive that independent Reviewing Officers felt they were in an open setting where they could raise alerts on the children that they were involved with. The Board also held a short discussion on the importance of reviewing alerts to see what could be learned and to consider whether they could be prevented going forward.

    3.    The Board noted that alerts had short timescales to be resolved and that alerts were only a small part of the whole quality assurance system. 

     

40.

INDEPENDENT VISITOR SERVICE REPORT

    • Share this item

    Purpose:

     

    ·         To provide an update on Surrey County Council’s independent visitor service.

    Minutes:

    Senay Nidai, Service Manager

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.    The Service Manager introduced the report and provided a brief summary. The Board noted that there was a new service coordinator in post who was currently working to review all policy and procedure around the independent reviewing service. The officer further stated that one of the biggest challenges for the service was around providing and maintaining the best offer to children placed out of county.

    2.    A Member of the Board asked whether there was any connection between the Independent Visitor service and the Grandmentor Scheme. The Service Manager explained that the Grandmentor Scheme was for people ages 18 and over and that the Independent Visitor service was a service to help and befriend looking after children under the ages of 18.

    3.    A Member of the Board suggested that the service look into the work of the Children’s Society Mentor Scheme.

41.

DIRECTOR FOR CORPORATE PARENTING UPDATE

    • Share this item

    Purpose:

     

    ·         To provide members with a regular update on key areas for the services which support the delivery of Corporate Parenting across the county.

    ·         To provide a summary of the Alerts and Escalations raised on behalf of children by the Independent Reviewing Service.

    ·         To provide a performance update.

    Minutes:

    Tina Benjamin, Director – Corporate Parenting

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.    The Director introduced the report and provided a brief summary. Members noted details of a recent Ofsted Monitoring Visit which looked at the service provided to care leavers. The Director explained that there was still more work to do however she was pleased with the feedback received so far. The Board noted that one of the issues raised was the number of young people that were not in education or training. The officer further highlighted:

    a.    the number of unaccompanied asylum seeking children had increased which had put pressure on colleagues across the service.

    b.    the building designs annexed to the report.

    2.    A Member of the Board asked whether the new buildings would be zero carbon and whether any reduced running costs had been factored into the overall plans. The Director confirmed that discussions were being had with the Land and Property department to consider what could be done to produce buildings that were zero carbon. Officers further highlighted that the buildings would be designed around the children and be implemented with anti-barricade doors, anti-ligature design, and an autism friendly design.

    3.    The Board noted that that ‘Other Placements' section included Independent Living, Children's Homes and Residential Placements.

    4.    The Chairman stated that further detail on the ‘other’ and ‘NEET’ categories would be helpful in future reports. The Chairman further confirmed that conversations were being had with the statistics team on this matter.

42.

CORPORATE PARENTING IMPROVEMENT UPDATE

    • Share this item

    Purpose: An update to be provided on:

     

    ·         Ofsted Monitoring Visit

    ·         Getting to Good and Inspection Readiness

    ·         Fostering Services – Systems, Processes & Performance Information

    ·         Children with Disabilities Services

    ·         The Family Safeguard Model

    ·         Neglect and Graded Care Profile 2.0

    ·         Risk Management for young people

    ·         No Wrong Door

    ·         Financial Management – LIFT

    ·         Workforce

    Minutes:

    Howard Bromley, Senior Programmes Manager

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.    The Senior Programmes Manager introduced the report and provided a brief summary. It was noted that the report included key improvement work across all of children’s services (not limited to the Corporate Parenting services) and that, in future reports, the content would be more focused on those services supporting children in care and care leavers. The Board went on to note detail on a project with fostering services regarding the recording system, a reunification project and an independent skills project. Further details on each of the projects were outlined within the report.

    2.    The Chairman said she was pleased to see how the family safeguarding model, Joining the Dots model and No Wrong Door was linking together to jointly work on early intervention and prevention of children coming into care.

    3.    The Executive Director said that she was pleased to report that the service had sustained its improvements across the system and was in a better position than it was in 2018. The Executive Director also thanked for colleagues for their continued dedication.

     

     

43.

ACTIONS AND AOB

    • Share this item

    Purpose:

     

    ·         For the Board to review the attached action tracker, making suggestions for additions or amendments as appropriate

    ·         To discuss any other business as necessary

    Minutes:

    Racheal Ireton, Corporate Parenting Project Manager

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.    In regards to the Actions Tracker, the Project Manager stated that there was good progress with the actions tracker due to the good work of the Corporate Parenting Operation Group (CPOG) and that there was now a three-year forward plan in place. Members further noted that:

    a.    CPOG had discussed the need to improve links with other local authorities and that the Gateway to Resources Team was now taking it forward.

    b.    The CPOG Health Sub-Group was developing the Health Passports and NHS App for children and young people.

    c.     The CPOG members and Virtual School were developing a strategy for Education, Employment and Training

    d.    Two task and finish groups were reviewing the council tax scheme and developing a stronger offer around leisure for young people.

    2.    A Member of the Board requested a further update on the leisure offer to young people.

    3.    In regard to action ref: D24, A Member of the Board asked what the practice conversations would look like and whether they would be held in other locations across the country. The Chairman agreed to consider potential options outside the meeting.

    4.    The Chairman reminded the Board that Link Member Training was taking place on 11 November 2021. Councillor Essex went on to provide a short update on his Link Member visits and stated that he found them very useful.

44.

MINUTES FROM THE PREVIOUS MEETING: 2 SEPTEMBER 2021

    • Share this item

    Purpose:

     

    ·         To agree the draft minutes as a true record of the meeting.

    Minutes:

    The Corporate Parenting Board approved the minutes of the previous meeting.

45.

DATE OF NEXT MEETING: THURSDAY, 9 DECEMBER 2021

    • Share this item

    The next meeting of the Board will be held at 11:00am on Thursday, 9 December 2021.

    Minutes:

    The Corporate Parenting Board noted the date of the next meeting.